Concernsover the stability of the national government increased during the 1780s. They crystallized into downright fear in the fall of 1786 because it seemed as if anarchy had taken over in Massachusetts. The growing concern over the future of the nation provided a perfect backdrop for Shays’s Rebellion. Fueled by economic problems, the revolt began as a minor conflict in Massachusetts but quickly developed into a national concern. Scarcity of money, intensified by a severe taxation and debt retirement program instituted by the state, created extreme hardships for debtors in rural Massachusetts. Trouble had been brewing throughout rural New England ever since the end of the war. Attempts to force favorable legislation out of state governments occurred in Connecticut and Vermont. In New Hampshire, a mob of disgruntled farmers held the state legislature prisoner for several hours. But the greatest unrest occurred in the frontier counties of western Massachusetts. Trying to stave off property seizures for unpaid taxes, residents met in county conventions in the summer and fall of 1786 to petition the Massachusetts general assembly for help. Failing to get a sympathetic hearing in Boston, the men rebelled. Led by Daniel Shays, an ex-Continental army captain, nearly 2,000 of them joined together in a makeshift army that closed the courts and prevented government officials from foreclosing on anyone’s property. Finally, in February 1787, the militia under General Benjamin Lincoln clashed with Shays’s men near Petersham, bringing an end to the rebellion.
Shays’s Rebellion sent shock waves throughout the country, producing anxiety over the nation’s future. People all over the nation saw these actions as signs of lawlessness and anarchy. Although order was eventually restored, many people expressed concern because the national government was unable to do anything to help restore order. As a result, the movement